Lanie's - World's Greatest Chili
Serve 4 to 6
Recipe from Rick & Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures
This is classic chili – more or less Tex-Mex style. If you make it with the whole ancho chile pods (sometimes called pasilla chile pods on the West Coast), use coarse-ground meat (the classic “chili grind” in the Southwest), brown it well, and add fresh-ground spices; it’ll be one of the best chilis you’ve tasted.
The difference between chili and chile? Chili is the dish; chile is the pod. Why not use regular chili powder? Because it usually contains dried spices (including salt and sugar), which you may not like. If chili powder’s all you’ve got, use 4 tablespoons, leave out the cumin, and go easy on the salt. Chile pods and pure ground chile are available in all Mexican grocery stores.
4 large (about 2 ounces) ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
OR 3 tablespoons pure ground ancho, New Mexico or California chile
2 tablespoons bacon drippings, vegetable oil or olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, ground pork or a mixture of the two
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons masa harina (the flour used to make corn tortillas) or corn meal
One 15-ounce can pinto beans
About 1 cup grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, for serving
3 green onions, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces, for serving
1. Toast and soak chiles. Heat large deep skillet or a large heavy pot (like a 6- to 9-quart Dutch oven) over medium. When hot, toast chiles one by one: open flat and press down with spatula until chile releases aroma and toasts lightly - 10 to 15 seconds. Flip and toast other side same amount of time. Transfer to a small bowl. When all are done, cover with hot tap water and lay a plate on top to keep the chiles submerged.
2. Brown meat and onion. Raise heat under pan to medium-high. Add bacon drippings or oil, then add the meat and onion. Break up meat with spoon or spatula as it cooks and browns—total cooking time about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. If there is lots of rendered fat, tip it off and discard.
3. Make seasoning. Drain chiles, discarding water. Place in food processor fitted with steel blade. Add garlic, tomatoes with their juices and cumin. Secure lid and process until smooth. Set medium-mesh strainer over meat pot. Pour in chile mixture and press through.
4. Simmer chile. Return pan to medium-high heat. Stir 5 minutes to cook chile mixture. Stir in 2 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 45 minutes.
5. Finish and serve. Sprinkle corn meal or masa harina over chili and stir. Stir in drained beans if using. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary. Ladle chili into bowls. Scoop cheese and green onion into small serving bowls. Pass separately for guests to add as much as they want.